Title: Big Brother Instincts
Characters: Sherlock, Q
Warnings/Triggers: very heavy references to drug use and lighter suggestions of withdrawal, a mugging, some awkward family moments
Summary: Sherlock goes to his brother's aid to stave off boredom, and they attempt to repair past damage done.
This story is a bit more dramatic than I usually write, with some family drama and dealing with the aftermath of Sherlock's addiction. However, being me, it isn't all doom and gloom. Set Pre-Series One of Sherlock and Pre-Skyfall, probably by about six years for the former. Q is roughly twenty-three and Sherlock is roughly twenty-six.
Q, being pre-Quartermaster days is solely referred to as 'Trevelyan' (the name I've given him) in this story.
Set in the Trio 'verse (Trio, No Rest, Most of the Time, Pox, Acceptably Close to Love, Simple Things, all uploaded here)
Sherlock closed his eyes and concentrated on the feeling of the instrument in his hands; the strings under his fingers, the wood under his chin, the bow in his hand. He concentrated on the muscles in his arm as it moved the bow across the strings, naming them all in his mind. He concentrated on the vibration in his teeth from the notes the violin produced. He blocked out the itching in his fingers, the restlessness in his legs. He blocked out the boredom. Boredom was dangerous. He couldn't afford boredom.
He was six months sober, and he was not going to do something so mundane as to relapse. Lesser men relapsed. Half the people at the rehab centre Mycroft had forced on him were second and third timers. Literature and research were all very doubtful that it was possible to conquer a cocaine addiction permanently. Sherlock had every intention of proving them wrong.
He let the music fill up his little bedsit, and wrap around him, closing up tightly like a shield. The notes burst in bright colours under his eyelids. His shoulders relaxed. His fingers stopped itching so much. His legs stopped twitching.
His mobile rang.
He contemplated ignoring it, but it was possible that Lestrade might be calling to consult him. He was certain that sometime soon the DI would realize he needed his help. The man was an idiot, but aware of his limitations, and noble enough to prefer to get help than let a case go unsolved. Just the sort of person Sherlock could manipulate. He just needed to be a bit patient.
He had to search for his mobile, which he found underneath a quite ancient plate of pasta he must have made at some point when he thought he was going to eat. He pushed it aside, and took a look at the screen. He didn't recognize the number.
"Sherlock Holmes," he said.
"It's Trevelyan," his brother said. "I've been mugged. I'm at a police station."
Sherlock waited a moment for more information, but that was all that was offered. "Yes, and?" he prompted.
"I'm fine, thank you," Trevelyan said.
"Of course you are," Sherlock said. "If you were hurt you'd be ringing from a hospital, and your voice is composed, so you haven't been traumatized. What do you expect me to do?"
Trevelyan's sigh hissed over the line. "I don't have money for a cab. Could you fix that in some way?"
"Can't you ring a friend?" Sherlock asked.
"What could one of them do?" Trevelyan asked. "They're all at least ninety minutes way, those of them that haven't gone home for the break."
Break. Sherlock looked around for a newspaper and checked the date. Yes, it would be school break, wouldn't it? It was past the end of Michaelmas term. "You're in London?" he clarified.
"Yes, and Mycroft isn't picking up," Trevelyan said. "Otherwise I wouldn't be bothering you. Could you send me a cab, or bring a cab, or give me a credit card number or something? I want to go home."
Sherlock felt an irrational stab of annoyance at being the second choice brother, even though, given that he could send a car, Mycroft was the logical one to approach. Especially considering the nature of Sherlock and Trevelyan's last encounter.
"I'll pay you back straightaway," Trevelyan added, when Sherlock's response was delayed.
He could just give Trevelyan a credit card number. It would be the simplest thing. However, going to pick him up would kill some time. Keep the boredom at bay for a bit longer, maybe.
"Which station are you at?"
"Charing Cross. And Sherlock? Would you bring some shoes?"
The very underdeveloped big brother instinct in Sherlock reacted quite forcibly to the state of his brother when he emerged from the police station. He had a black eye, and a torn jacket, the remnants of a bloody nose, and was carrying his glasses in his hand, one lens popped out. Sherlock had a brief, swift urge to seek out the culprits and dispose of them. The crime played itself out in front of him as he observed:
Approached from behind, grabbed by the jacket collar, forced against a wall, gun to the ribs—left handed, unusual—wallet, shoes, watch, and cufflinks taken without resistance. Punched in the face—why attack? No defensive wounds, he didn't fight back...
"You should have kept your mouth shut," Sherlock said.
"I did," Trevelyan said. He accepted the shoes Sherlock held out and put them on. "I was quite polite, and he seemed to find that rather offensive. I think he would have liked me to be more panicked."
"You need to learn how to defend yourself," Sherlock said.
"I have no interest in your baritsu—"
"Whatever. I'm about to get a PhD in Computer Sciences. Combat training is not exactly a requirement in my field of work."
"You don't have a field of work," Sherlock reminded him.
Trevelyan put a finger to his lips. "Shhh. Mycroft is still under the delusion I might become a contributing member of society," he said.
Sherlock smirked. He stepped aside to let Trevelyan into the cab, and got in behind him.
"Where are you staying?" he asked.
"The Penthouse," Trevelyan said.
Sherlock gave the driver the address.
"May I borrow your phone?" Trevelyan asked. "I need to start cancelling cards and accounts. Plus, I fully intend to activate every bloody trap in my own phone so that his life is henceforth ruined."
Sherlock willingly handed his phone over to see how this was accomplished. Trevelyan squinted and moved the phone to and from his face to find the right distance for his eyes. He looked a bit owlish, but his vision was acceptable without his glasses. He had strabismis, and had had a lazy eye as a child—the left one would turn in toward his nose when he got tired. He used to have to wear a patch on his right one, something Sherlock had liked because he'd been in his pirate phase at the time and a brother with an eye patch made an excellent First Mate on his pirate ship. He'd forgotten about that, until he saw Trevelyan's familiar squint.
Trevelyan's fingers flew over the number pad once he found the right way to hold it, faster than Sherlock could follow—which was saying something—and, very shortly after, his phone was doing things he wasn't aware it could do.
Other than the beeping of keys, there was silence in the cab, and even Sherlock, who wasn't good at noticing this sort of thing, was aware it was not a comfortable one. He didn't have anything to say—nothing that would suffice anyway. His counsellor had advised letting his 'loved ones' pace their interactions with him. He informed him he didn't have loved ones, but he supposed that advice would work for...whatever Trevelyan counted as. Family, certainly.
"How are you?" Trevelyan asked, a bit cautiously.
Sherlock shrugged a shoulder. "Fine."
"You look...better," Trevelyan said.
"I'm sure I do," Sherlock replied.
He could see Trevelyan's shoulders hunching up, the way they used to when dealing with bullies at school. He could also see Trevelyan force them down again, and attempt a more neutral pose when he saw Sherlock notice it.
"How's school?" Sherlock tried.
"Boring," Trevelyan said.
"Why do you stay on then?" Sherlock asked.
"Because I have nothing better to do," Trevelyan said. "And the moment I don't have an excuse, Mycroft is going to be on my back about my future. At least now I can still tell him I'm working on my dissertation, and I don't have time to do anything else."
"You had time to hack Facebook," Sherlock said.
Trevelyan looked innocent. "Yes, I read about that in the papers," he said. "Quite clever, wasn't it? I'd love to meet the person who pulled that off. He must be brilliant."
"Hmm," Sherlock grunted, smiling. "Though, a bit childish. Surely someone of that skill would have something more useful to do than change everyone's relationship status to 'who bloody cares?'?"
"Perhaps he needed a break from his dissertation and wanted a bit of fun," Trevelyan replied.
"What is your dissertation about, anyway?" Sherlock asked.
Trevelyan launched into a long, complicated explanation, about mutating waveforms or some such thing, and Sherlock tuned out, listening only for the pauses to add an appropriate noise of interest. It filled up enough time to get to the block of flats where The Penthouse was.
"...But, of course, that will all depend on whether I can get the tortoise into the plus-fours," Trevelyan said.
Sherlock fell into the trap, turning in confusion to find Trevelyan grinning smugly at him.
"You shouldn't ask if you don't care," he said. "I don't care if you care. I'm used to it."
Sherlock felt an annoying little nip of hurt at that comment, though he didn't know why. It was accurate. He gave him a cold smile, and got out of the cab.
"Do you have keys for the flat?" Trevelyan asked. "Or do I need to get Higgins to help?"
"The mugger took your keys?" Sherlock said.
"Sherlock, he took my shoes," Trevelyan said. "I consider myself quite fortunate he didn't take my trousers. As I explained, he was quite upset about something."
Sherlock paid the cab driver, and let him go, pulling his keys out of his pocket and searching for the ones he needed. It would be easier just to get Trevelyan into the building than let him borrow the keys. He unlocked the front door with one key, and then summoned the private lift with another.
"Did you rewire this again?" Sherlock asked, glancing over the very modern interface on the very old lift. He put a finger to the touchscreen, hitting the box marked 'penthouse'.
"I was bored," Trevelyan said.
"Penthouse," a computerized voice said, and the lift went upward. It repeated the destination upon arrival, and the cage doors parted. Sherlock stepped out into the small hallway between the lift and the door to the flat, and put his key in the lock. He flattened himself against the wall to let Trevelyan past him.
"If you come in, I'll reimburse you," Trevelyan said.
"I don't need the money right away," Sherlock said.
"I'd rather not have it hanging over me," Trevelyan said.
'I'd rather not to have to make further contact with you' was what that meant. Sherlock shrugged. It suited him fine. He stepped into the flat, and shut the door behind him.
The flat had been redecorated since his last visit, which was some years ago now. It was too impersonal to be Mummy's work—Mycroft must have had it commissioned. Everything looked modern and sleek now—coherent enough be aesthetically pleasant, but entirely out of character for the flat itself and the family to which it belonged . The flat was unique, an odd collection of polygons and angles. This decor was too boring for a flat so unusual.
"I believe a cup of tea is urgently required," Trevelyan said. "Do you want one?"
Sherlock hadn't properly been listening, and nodded before he registered what he'd been asked. Trevelyan reacted with a rather alarmed smile, clearly not having expected to a get a positive response. Sherlock felt a surge of pleasure at being contrary.
"I'll go and put on the kettle," Trevelyan said.
He disappeared into the kitchen. Sherlock wandered around the flat, peering in rooms to see what had been done to them. Nothing good. He skimmed past the living room/dining room, and opened the door to his father's office. It was the only room mostly untouched. Probably some sort of maudlin memorial on Mycroft's part. Sherlock closed the door, and moved back to the dining room, sitting down at the table. It was strewn with Trevelyan's papers, and a mess of wires, tools, and computer chips. Sherlock snooped around the papers. They made sense to him, but barely.
He got up abruptly and went to the piano, feeling restless again. It was roughly in tune, and he fiddled around with it, attempting to play what he remembered. He hadn't played for years, not since he decided to focus on the violin. His fingers stumbled several times over the keys, but the song eventually started to resemble what he was trying to play.
The phone rang, and he ignored it. It rang out, then rang again. He ignored it again. Trevelyan's footsteps hurried to the plinth in the hallway where the phone was, and Sherlock could hear his end of the conversation.
"I'm fine. Sherlock came. It's fine, I don't mind. Yes, I'm sure. I'm fine. I didn't talk back, Mycroft. I did everything I have been trained to do in that exact scenario. It's not my fault. I don't have a car and driver, I need to walk. No. No. I am not being chauffeured around London. If you send a car I won't get in it. I have to go. Stop speaking. I'm hanging up. The phone is leaving my ear presently. Goodbye!"
Trevelyan, now wearing a spare pair of glasses, entered the living room, carrying both cups of tea in one hand. He used his other to mime shooting himself in the head when Sherlock looked over.
Sherlock stood up from the piano bench to take the cup. "You shouldn't have answered."
"The last time I tried that he hacked a cashpoint and yelled at me over the screen," Trevelyan said. "Using software I designed—that I was scolded for designing!"
Sherlock smirked. "If you ignore him long enough, he'll send someone after you," he said. "And they are much easier to deal with."
"Familial relationships by proxy, sounds lovely," Trevelyan said.
He replaced Sherlock at the piano, putting his tea on the top. He promptly began playing Sherlock's song choice—much better than Sherlock had. Not showing off—more correcting an injustice. Trevelyan had persevered through to get his Grade 12 Piano certificate. Sherlock couldn't ever get through the exams to be officially recognized for his violin skills. The examiners always lost their patience, or he lost his.
"Mummy says you're a private detective now," Trevelyan said, while he played.
"Consulting detective," Sherlock said. He started to wander around the room.
"What's the difference?"
"I'm the only one."
"Ah. How unexpected, you needing to be unique. I suppose Mr. Trevor was right, then."
Sherlock paused in his wandering, and looked at him, confused. "Hmm?"
"Didn't he say you should become a detective?" Trevelyan said. "I thought you mentioned it, after you came back from Victor's—"
"Yes," Sherlock said, cutting him off. He nodded, briskly. "You're right. I'd forgotten."
He turned away, and Trevelyan looked upwards, making a shrugging gesture—an expression of 'why do I bother?'. Sherlock could see this in the reflection of one of the windows, but he wasn't meant to. He continued to watch, seeing Trevelyan deflate a little and look around as though he was considering smashing a hole in the wall to escape. Sherlock wasn't sure what the problem was. He thought he was being more sociable than usual. It wasn't his fault if Trevelyan felt awkward.
Well, it might be. A little.
The piano was a good reason not to talk, and Sherlock used it, taking a seat with his tea and sipping while he listened. Trevelyan played a few songs—all selections Sherlock didn't care for—and then closed the lid, moving to a seat at the other end of the table. He started to assemble one of his projects.
"Do you like being a detective, consulting or otherwise?" he asked.
"It's fine," Sherlock said. "It keeps my brain active, sometimes."
"That's the never ending quest, isn't it?" Trevelyan said. "Keeping you entertained."
Sherlock thought that sounded bitter, but he really wasn't good at picking up on those sorts of cues. It was easier when he knew someone for a long time and had a general knowledge of their routine facial expressions and mannerisms.
"My problem, not yours," he said, probing a little to see if he was right.
Trevelyan looked up and then back down, as though he'd changed his mind about speaking. He shrugged instead.
"Is it your problem?" Sherlock pressed.
"It's all of our problem when you..." Trevelyan began. He struggled with the words for a few moments. "We have to watch you."
"What me what?" Sherlock said.
"Explode," Trevelyan said. "We have to watch you explode. It's hard."
Sherlock had heard the spiel about taking responsibility for one's actions and recognizing those one had hurt during one's time of addiction and how hard it was to be helpless in the face of someone else's problems. Blah, blah, blah. He'd skimmed through most of it, picking up just enough to repeat back and sound sincere. It shouldn't be anyone else's problem but his own. He didn't particularly care of someone else took issue with it.
Trevelyan seemed to expect an answer, and then sighed and went back to work when he realized Sherlock didn't have one for him. Sherlock took a large gulp of tea in an effort to get it down faster and get out of there. He didn't even know where all this had come from; how they'd got here.
"I'm sorry I ratted you out to Mycroft," Trevelyan said, suddenly.
He spoke quite softly and he looked about four-years old when Sherlock caught his eye; the way he used to when he wanted to play with him and was afraid of being rejected. As though the rejection were inevitable.
The big brother instinct reared again and replaced Sherlock's petulant retort with the much nicer, if terse, "I know." He rolled his eyes, annoyed that they were even doing this at all, but went forward with it. "I probably shouldn't have put you in that position in the first place. I don't know why I came to you at all."
He didn't have a lot of memory of that night. It was the one before he'd been forced into rehab. He'd been very high. Trevelyan had been in the city on a break, and Sherlock had shown up at the townhouse, and...presumably done enough to make Trevelyan ring Mycroft. Most of Mycroft's lecture blurred together, including his reasons for entering rehab, but for some reason 'Trevelyan is afraid of you, Sherlock' stood out quite clearly.
"Perhaps you knew you needed help," Trevelyan said.
"Perhaps," Sherlock agreed, sceptically.
Trevelyan gave him an awkward smile, and took a sip of his tea. "I'm quite pleased you cleaned up," he said, cheerily. "I'd hate to think of you overdosing. You how much I dislike funerals. I might have had to make a speech!"
"Well, I wouldn't let Mycroft do it," Sherlock retorted, very pleased to be on the more familiar ground of banter, and away from feelings.
"I don't believe you'd have had a choice," Trevelyan said.
"Very well, I want your word that you won't let Mycroft deliver any eulogies I may require in the future," Sherlock said.
"Are you expecting to need more than one?" Trevelyan asked.
"Who knows?" Sherlock said.
"Well, I believe it's tacit, anyway," Trevelyan said. "Someone has to get up there and say what an arse you are."
Sherlock grinned. He finished off his tea. "I should go."
"I'll get you your money."
Trevelyan stood up and hurried from the room, returning with a chequebook and pen. He scratched out a cheque and tore it free, handing it to Sherlock. "That should cover it," he said.
Sherlock pocketed the cheque, and took his shoes back. Trevelyan walked with him to the door.
"Thanks for coming to my aid," he said.
"I had nothing better to do," Sherlock said.
Trevelyan nodded. "Are you coming for Christmas?" he asked.
"When's that?" Sherlock said.
"December 25th, same as every year," Trevelyan said.
"I don't know," Sherlock said.
"Well, I'll see you then, maybe," Trevelyan said.
"Maybe," Sherlock agreed. He opened the door, but turned back before he left. "You don't need to do what Mycroft tells you, you know. After you're done school. Do what you want." He wasn't entirely sure what compelled him to say that. Damned big brother instinct rearing again, maybe. It had to evolutionary. It certainly wasn't learned.
"Because that worked out so well for you?" Trevelyan said.
"It's starting to," Sherlock said.
Trevelyan offered a hand and Sherlock shook it, briefly. "Thanks for the advice," he said. "And, erm, it was good to see you. I think...I know...from what I've read—and I read a lot, but I know it's not the same—"
"Trevelyan," Sherlock interrupted, impatiently. "Finish your thoughts or be quiet."
"I know it must have been hard and I'm sorry I couldn't help," Trevelyan blurted out. "And I hope you don't screw it up again."
"Yes. All right," Sherlock said. Once again, Trevelyan seemed to want more but he couldn't find an accurate response. He felt it was best just to get out of there. "Goodbye."
"Bye," Trevelyan said.
He took the lift down and ignored the concierge's attempt at a greeting, going out into the street and hailing a cab back to his flat. He realized he was holding himself extremely rigid, and made an attempt to relax. He also realized he felt a bit relieved to have that all over with. The restlessness was still there, though, creeping at the back of his mind, waiting to come back in, but he wasn't worried.
He'd killed a good forty-five minutes dealing with Trevelyan's escapades, and the night wasn't over yet. He had a left-handed mugger to find, and that would do for now.